Unity Can Stop the Tory Cuts!

The federal government’s unilateral decision to eliminate home delivery, jack postal rates, and cut thousands of jobs at Canada Post is a massive attack on one of Canada’s ‘flagship’ public services. This ‘reform’ has nothing to do with “modernizing” our postal services; rather, it is a central part of the overall agenda of the Conservatives and their big business patrons to privatize public services and to attack the rights and interests of organized workers. The Communist Party of Canada joins with postal workers, the rest of the labour movement and many community allies in condemning this action, and calls for the widest mobilization possible to force the Harper government to cancel its implementation.

These changes would make Canada the first country in the world to completely replace door‑to‑door delivery of urban mail with the “community mail boxes” which were imposed over opposition in rural areas across the country. Those negatively affected will include huge numbers of pensioners and people with disabilities who will find it much more difficult to get their mail on a regular basis. The reduction of service levels and staggering price increases will also devastate thousands of small businesses and charities which rely heavily on lettermail to maintain contact with customers and pay their bills. The bland reassurances of Canada Post and Harper government cabinet ministers that these are “minor problems” ring completely hollow, and their ludicrous claim that “seniors welcome the opportunity for more exercise” is a cruel joke.

The “restructuring” plan marks an escalation of the government’s attack on the workforce at Canada Post. Up to 8,000 jobs of postal workers will be eliminated, and the hard‑won pension rights of all Canada Post employees are also threatened. This is just the latest example of the Harper government’s austerity agenda, based on protecting and expanding corporate profits at the workers’ and public’s expense.

The reduction of services and the dramatic rise in Canada Post prices are designed to compel Canadians to seek other options to deliver letters and packages. The Harper Tories are setting the stage for privatization of all public assets and services, by turning over a huge chunk of this vital service to the super-profitable transnational delivery corporations.

This trend will become virtually unstoppable with the signing of secretive deals such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, which aims to prevent any future government from adopting policies or laws which could impact the profits of private corporations. CETA introduces changes which escalate previous giveaways, and adds new conditions of exploitation and penetration of global capital into Canada.

Privatization of postal services is also being imposed in most of the European Union, where all member states have abolished the monopoly of public mail delivery by national companies. Letter delivery is still dominated by the former national postal companies (some of which have been privatized), but in several countries new competitors have acquired more than ten per cent of the market share. Post office networks have been largely replaced with private outlets such as grocery stores or gas stations, offering a reduced range of services. The new competitors emerging from the “liberalized market” pick up mail directly from their large corporate customers, and typically deliver only two or three days a week in urban areas.

Despite promises of lower rates, standard mail costs have increased sharply in many of these countries. The “winners” of European mail privatization include private shareholders and managers of the former public monopolies, and large corporate customers. The losers include private households and postal workers who have lost up to half of their jobs and suffered declining working conditions and pay cuts.

There is a direct connection between the destruction of 8000 jobs at Canada Post, the decline of Canadian manufacturing and the loss of 500,000 jobs under NAFTA, and now the CETA. These developments are all part of the corporate drive to make the working class pay the costs for the global crisis of capitalism, which continues to deepen since it began in 2008.

The supposed justification for this “restructuring” is based on wildly exaggerated projections of heavy financial losses by Canada Post, as well as a Conference Board of Canada report advocating the changes announced in December. The Conference Board recommendations are hardly surprising, since Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra (who is paid nearly $500,000 a year) is on the board of this so‑called “independent” right‑wing think‑tank, clearly a conflict of interest.

The Communist Party of Canada demands full withdrawal of this plan to cut delivery services, raise prices and eliminate jobs. We call on the federal government to act upon the well‑founded proposals by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to build the customer base of Canada Post, such as expanded postal banking which could become a solid source of income.

We will join with the labour and democratic movements across the country to help mount a massive public fight to Save Canada Post.

There are many ways that Canadians can help to Save Canada Post!

  • Flood the Prime Minister’s office and MPs on Parliament Hill with (postage-free) letters demanding the government keep its Hands Off the Post Office!
  • Attend “town hall” meetings being organized across the country, to get the facts and to help raise public awareness of the issues at stake.
  • Sign the petition “Save Canada Post” and put a poster on your mailbox, both available at www.cupw.ca.
  • Pass a motion in your union or labour council, in your community organization, and in your municipal council calling on the federal government to withdraw its restructuring plans.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, or call up a radio talk show to present the facts about the restructuring.
  • Get informed! Get organized! Speak up!

The more public pressure can be mobilized in this way, the better. These campaigns can and should be broadened, escalating into mass rallies, occupations of the offices of Conservative MPs, and other visible forms of resistance.

All these actions are necessary in the fight to halt the corporate privatization agenda, and to save the vital public services provided for over a century by Canada Post. We call for all-out unity in this struggle, to block this attack and to defeat the Harper Tories in the next election, before they completely dismantle public mail delivery in Canada!